Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Country Inns: Puget Sound's Orcas Island

A late-1800's farmhouse on Puget Sound's Orcas Island offers cozy quarters and homemade breakfasts in the countryside.

While scouting for a summer home in the San Juan archipelago, San Francisco Bay-area residents Susan and Bill Fletcher came upon a property that altered the course of their lives. They purchased a dilapidated turn-of-the-century farmhouse set on 80 wooded acres, then plunged into a thorough renovation, converting the former hay barn into Turtleback Farm Inn.

The Fletchers now devote themselves year-round to sharing with guests the tranquility, lush countryside, and homey, antiques-filled accommodations of their Orcas Island hideaway. Breakfasts prepared with eggs from Turtleback's chickens and jam from orchard fruits as well as guest-room comforters made of the wool from Turtleback's sheep celebrate the richness of the island's rural environment.

The Great Outdoors

Bill embellished the inn's exterior with Victorian green paint and fashioned a fence from California vineyard stakes. Near the entryway, an heirloom Rosa rubrifolia blooms. Located on Orcas, considered to be the most beautiful of islands in the San Juan archipelago, the inn overlooks 80 acres of forest and farmland in the shadow of Turtleback Mountain. It commands a spectacular view of lush meadows and duck ponds, with Mt. Constitution providing the backdrop to the east.

Relaxing Indoors

Bill's handcrafted creations -- an oak rocker reconstructed from salvaged furniture parts and a white-pine rocking horse -- distinguish the Valley View room. The room is made cozy by simple country touches: swagged drapery panels, a floral sprig bed cover, and an oblong floor runner. On the deck, guests can enjoy views of a venerable cork elm, valley firs and alders, and Mt. Constitution, which at 2,409 feet is the highest point in the islands.

Breakfast on the Deck

Weather permitting, homemade breakfasts are served on the dining deck, which affords a sweeping view of Crow Valley. Tables are set with china, silver, and crisp linens. Breakfasts include fresh fruits and juices, award-winning granola, home-baked bread and pastries, and fresh eggs and meats.

Toward the end of the day, guests are offered a glass of sherry before they move on to one of the island's fine restaurants for dinner.

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